Big night for Big Blue, draft leftovers

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

Paint Thursday's NBA Draft the color of Kentucky blue. A record five Wildcats were selected in the first round of the draft, the most ever from one school. Add John Wall's name to the UK record books, as well. He becomes the first Wildcat to be the No. 1 overall selection in the draft. What does all this mean?

Paint Thursday's NBA Draft the color of Kentucky blue.

A record five Wildcats were selected in the first round of the draft, the most ever from one school.  Add John Wall's name to the UK record books, as well.  He becomes the first Wildcat to be the No. 1 overall selection in the draft.

What does all this mean?

Simply put, it was an incredible night for Kentucky basketball.  UK is the biggest winner on draft night.

Coach John Calipari was in the Green Room during the draft and was absolutely giddy, hearing the names of Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton called by Commissioner David Stern during the opening round.  Cal was bouncing around like a kid on Christmas Eve.

For high school kids trying to get to the NBA, look no further than Calipari.  Since 2002, the coach has seen 10 of his players selected in the first round, including Derrick Rose and John Wall.  Both were No. 1 picks.

The last two NBA Rookie of the Year award winners were Calipari players.  Wall could make it a three-peat.

I was critical of Calipari and his approach to one-and-dones, but I've backed off my stance, a little.  I've said, and heard others I respect say, UK won't win another national championship with this approach.  Statistics show that teams hang banners with veteran players. 

Last season's Wildcats were led by three freshmen, part of the greatest recruiting class in UK history, if not college basketball. Four of those freshmen were first-round draft picks, yet the Cats were defeated by West Virginia in the regional final.

Rick Pitino is fond of saying you can't win a championship without having at least a couple of NBA prospects on your team.  His 1996 title team at UK featured nine guys that would play in the NBA.

I'll just say that in order to get those NBA prospects to come to Lexington, Calipari is on the right track.  If those are the rules by which coaches play, then having elite players that stay for just one season gives a school like Kentucky as good a chance of winning a title as any other.

Then, there is the monetary value of seeing five UK players drafted. I'm sure there's not a price tag that could be placed upon the amount of mentions UK received during the draft, which was televised by ESPN.  Then consider the number of stories printed in newspapers, magazines and appearing on the Internet, and you have a significant financial value associated with the success of these five players.

All of which cost the university nothing.

One local advertising executive on Saturday told me that during TV coverage of the draft alone, UK likely received close to $500,000 in free publicity.


Bejeweled and Bedazzled

Most of the players in attendance at Thursday night's draft were decked out in some of the finest fashion money could buy. 

The UK players looked great, wearing some shade of gray suit, all of which, I'm told, were custom-fitted and designed.  Wall and Cousins both wore diamond-encrusted watches, as did many of the other players that were attending the draft.  A source tells me that at least one watch, worn by a player, had a retail value of more than $185,000.

It was all part of the glitz blitz that top shelf companies used during the NBA Draft, as a vehicle to market products aimed at wealthy consumers.

For example, Cousins Tweeted a picture and a message that he was riding around New York City in a Maserati, with a suggested retail price of $145,000.

To put that in perspective, the five Wildcats drafted in the first round are guaranteed more than $22.2 million dollars in salary to begin their careers.

That would buy quite a few toys.

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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